[b-hebrew] Deut 5, 17 -20

Peter Kirk peterkirk at qaya.org
Tue Mar 23 04:47:50 EST 2004

On 22/03/2004 19:51, Yigal Levin wrote:

>The Jewish tradition of numbering the verses follows the "lower" marks -
>according to this, commandments 6-9 are combined into one verse, no. 17. So
>yes, that means that in Jewish Bibles, Deut. 5 has a total of 30 verses,
>while in English Bibles (and I assume in most Christian traditions) the same
>chapter has 33 verses. The BHS, while printing both sets of marks, follows
>the Christian tradition in numbering the verses.

The BHS and other Christian editions of the Hebrew Bible consistently do 
NOT follow the versification of English Bibles. Rather they follow the 
verse divisions of the Hebrew text as indicated by the sof pasuq signs, 
as found in old MSS such as Leningradensis (although MSS do differ 
slightly in positioning of sof pasuq). In Deuteronomy 5 commandments 6-9 
are numbered as separate verses because there are sof pasuq signs 
between each of them. It would appear that BHS is following one of the 
ancient Jewish traditions of dividing the text. The other tradition is 
indicated by verse numbers in parentheses, at least in this chapter.

>By the way, there are lots of places in which the Jewish and Christian
>traditions of numbering verses and dividing chapters differ. In many of the
>Psalms, the English does not count the "superscription" (things like "To the
>musician, a psalm of David") as a real verse, and starts numbering from
>after, while the Jewish tradition does. So, for example, Ps. 42 has 12
>verses in Hebrew, and only 11 in English (in this case, for some reason, BHS
>follows the Hebrew).

I think it would be much better here to distinguish Hebrew and English 
traditions of verse numbering. As far as I know all Hebrew texts follow 
the Hebrew verse numbering system, and there are differences only in the 
Ten Commandments. The English system is significantly different in quite 
a few places, although apart from the Psalms titles most of these 
differences are in chapter divisions rather than verse divisions.

The English system is used in a number of other languages, of course. 
But in several European languages a slightly different system is used 
based on the Latin Vulgate. The system used in the Greek LXX is 
different again. The Russian system follows the LXX in the Psalms, which 
means that most psalm numbers (chapter numbes, not verse numbers) are 
one different from the Hebrew and English numbers, but following the 
English elsewhere with some variations.

>I have a Hebrew-English Bible printed by "The Society for Distributing
>Hebrew Scriptures" in England, which has a "Jewish" MT for the Hebrew, and
>the King James for the English, which makes it very convenient to compare
>and make sure that I'm giving the "correct" citations. If you want, I'll
>give you their address (the have a US address as well).
A few years ago I compiled a comparative chart of Hebrew, English and 
Russian verse numbers for the whole Hebrew Bible (and it also covers the 
smaller number of differences in the New Testament). The Hebrew numbers 
are as in BHS. You may download this chart from 
a zipped Word document.

Peter Kirk
peter at qaya.org (personal)
peterkirk at qaya.org (work)

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